In a thoughtful, well-written editorial published yesterday, the Brown Daily Herald at Brown University calls on students to protect the marketplace of ideas on campus and to engage with each other in a real and meaningful exchange of viewpoints.
Echoing points we make all the time at FIRE, the editorial discusses the benefits of seeking views different from one’s own in order to challenge and sharpen those beliefs, rather than staying within the relative comfort of those who hold the same views. In relevant part, the editorial states:
A varied discourse is crucial to our learning. How can we form convincing, rational and justified arguments for our beliefs if there is no forum in which to debate? How will we be challenged to broaden our intellectual horizons if we marginalize opportunities to address contrasting opinions? We are often harshly critical of political discourse on a national level, where it seems politicians, pundits and other prominent figures barely stop to acknowledge an opponent’s point before either taking it out of context or delegitimizing it by attempting to paint the other person as anti-American or idiotic. Yet we often engage in the same kind of ad hominem attacks, bypassing any productive or meaningful dissection.
If we, as a student body, cannot maintain rational discourse even here, that does not bode well for when we leave the "Brown bubble" and have to engage on a daily basis with people with whom we might have even less in common. We urge students to consider the limits of their own predispositions and find ways to be open to other viewpoints.
Well said. Our thanks to the staff of the Brown Daily Herald for helping to spread the message about the importance of free speech and the marketplace of ideas!